Boston Bruins Forward Peter Cehlarik Returns to Lineup Against Canucks As Bruins Deal With Injuries
Peter Cehlarik is a talented player. Despite shining in his first two games in the NHL, however, he was faced with some scrutiny in the games following the Boston Bruins’ bye-week. For Cehlarik, consistency has been an issue. In his defense, he is still a rookie, and through 10 games in his NHL career, mistakes will be made.
In the games that Cehlarik has played in, he’s displayed distinct dynamic flashes. His heads-up passes, ability to keep the puck on his stick and instant chemistry with David Krejci and David Pastrnak were impossible to ignore. It all comes back to the 21-year-olds hockey IQ. Despite being so young, he’s a very smart player who understands how the game needs to be played. Unfortunately, his inexperience has also caused him to be less-than-effective in many situations. At this point in the playoff race, the Bruins simply can’t afford to focus on development over winning – though they don’t necessarily need to sacrifice the former for the latter.
Managing Lines Strategically
After being a healthy scratch in the Bruins last two games. Cehlarik is set to rejoin his Bruins’ teammates against the Vancouver Canucks. His spot in the lineup is different than it was prior to his time in the press box, though. When the Bruins skated Monday ahead of their game against the Canucks, Drew Stafford remained alongside Krejci and Pastrnak while Cehlarik took the spot of the recently-injured Tim Schaller on the Bruins’ fourth line. This “demotion” likely isn’t permanent, but it’s also not necessarily a bad thing either.
"“With a lot of the young guys they’re going to have their ups and downs,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said, per CSSNE. “We’re not down on Peter. Like a lot of young guys, and even some of the older guys too, puck management is crucial, and just being heavier and harder on it, with it and at it against men. It’s a learning curve and you just have to go through it just like everybody else.”"
Many will remember the Bruins using Brad Marchand in a fourth line role to start his career. This wasn’t because Marchand was a bad player – it was simply a way to get him used to the NHL game. The role of the fourth line is often to generate energy while starting shifts in the defensive zone and getting the ensuing faceoff in the offensive zone. This spells some of the top-line players while giving them a chance to produce offensively right off their next faceoff. With Cassidy mentioning that puck management is important, putting Cehlarik in a role where puck management is key is a good learning experience for the young Slovakian winger.
Drew Stafford Remains in Prominent Role
While the Bruins are giving Cehlarik a chance to play and develop specific aspects of his game, they are also looking towards the postseason. The Bruins need to make the playoffs this year. After missing it in each of the last two years, they are right in the thick of things in the Atlantic Division this season – something they should look to capitalize on. With Stafford in the lineup, this prospect seems much more plausible than it once did.
Staford has played in four games since joining the Bruins. In that time, he’s logged third line minutes, as well as second line minutes, and has even spent time on the power play. He’s averaged roughly 15 minutes of ice time per game. He’s also scored two goals (including a game-winner) and four points in four games. He even scored a goal that was called back in his first game with the team – though it probably shouldn’t have been.
Stafford has worked well in the Bruins’ lineup. Whether it’s been beside Krejci, or on the team’s third line, he’s just gelled with what the Bruins are building. Taking him out of a top-six role when he’s doing so well wouldn’t be a good idea, as such, Cassidy is doing what he can to keep a competitive team on the ice while letting Cehlarik know that his development is important.